Historians, artists, scientists, foodies, hikers, and yoga enthusiasts all call Jordan home. All these people will find a kindred spirit in this country. The ancient stone city of Petra, deep in the Jordanian desert, has a dreamlike aura. It's easy to understand why travelers are infatuated with this site, sculpted out of magnificent pink sandstone rock and concealed for centuries until it was uncovered by a Swiss adventurer. Petra is a key component of Jordan's cultural legacy, and it's no surprise that it's on most people's travel bucket lists. This ancient city is one of the most beautiful and fascinating destinations in the Middle East, with elaborately carved monuments, complex corridors, and a secret past. Here are 10 things tourists never knew about Petra.
10 Different Names
Petra was known by a different name among the Nabatean people, according to Josephus, an ancient historian. Moreover, based on inscriptions etched onto the astonishing walls, the incredible city was known as Raqemo, after its royal creator. In counterpart, the beautiful color of Petra's sandstone has earned it the nickname "the Rose City." Around sunset, the final rays of the sun cast a beautiful pink color on the rocks, making it one of the most enchanting times to visit.
9 Some Nabataean Descendants Still Live There
Several Bedouins still live in Petra's caverns, but tourists shall pay attention and not mistake them for some semi-barbarians. The Bedouins are intelligent and hardy people who are used to and enjoy living in tough environments. When Petra was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, the Jordanian government attempted to move them to a new settlement nearby. However, not all of them accepted the offer, and they stayed in their caves in Petra like Mofleh.
8 Half Of Petra Is Roman
Tourists do not expect to see so many Roman remains in the famed Nabatean city during their sightseeing. There's even an amphitheater! The Romans annexed Nabataea and called the region Arabia Petraea. When Petra's commercial value declined, the people abandoned the desert area, leaving it to the Romans and then Byzantines, who maintained erecting Christian churches. This fact is shocking to many visitors because Petra is such a desolate location in the Jordanian desert.
7 Petra Was Once Famous For Its Gardens
It is impossible to envisage Petra as a verdant paradise since it is located in the arid, sandy Jordanian desert. Nevertheless, recent excavations have revealed that a sophisticated irrigation system supplied water to the city's thirsty residents while also powering an impressive complex of fountains and gardens. Petra became a real oasis in the dry desert due to these magnificent gardens. City residents even had a swimming pool!
6 Petra Is Aligned With The Sun
The majority of Petra's constructions face the sun. While the ancient city was built as a commercial hub and could accommodate a whopping 30,000 people (for the ancient time), it was also meant to emphasize equinoxes and solstices. The affluent spice traders, like other ancient civilizations, venerated the sun and made sure their key monuments were properly aligned with their position on the bright horizon.
5 Petra Is Still Undiscovered
Petra is a huge archaeological site. To check everything there, tourists need several days. The astounding fact is that the city's gorgeous monuments, unique tombs, and rock-hewn constructions account for barely 15% of the total area. The rest is still hidden and awaiting discovery! There are many more secrets beneath the surface that could reveal information about Petra's early past, as well as the intriguing Byzantine and Greek periods.
4 Petra Is (Almost) Impossible To Conquer
Petra's extraordinary natural defenses may have contributed to the city's success. The site is reached from the east by al-Siq, a narrow, winding gorge that stretches for about a kilometer and would have made it extremely difficult for enemy forces to enter without being halted. This appears to have been the secret to its long-term success.
3 There's A Little Petra
Next on every guide's list of fascinating Petra facts is... Petra, the petite one. The archaeological site of Little Petra also referred to as Siq al-Barid, is located in the northern part of the original 'great' Petra. It's another Nabataean landmark with remarkable rock-carved buildings, as the name suggests. Siq al-Barid, on the other hand, is much smaller and less crowded than the other Petra. It's ideal for visitors who want to see the old Nabatean wonders but don't want to deal with the crowds.
2 It Was Destroyed By An Earthquake
While there were several causes for the once-prominent desert city's abandonment, the earthquake in AD 363 was the most significant catalyst. It was a major setback for Petra, which saw many of its religious sites and tombs, as well as half of the city, destroyed. It even messed up the complex water supply system. The earthquake's destruction, resulting from changes in trade routes, drained the city's energy and forced it to close.
1 Petra Is Steeped In Biblical Legend
Petra's historical beginnings can be traced all the way back to Biblical times. Moses Valley (Wadi Musa) is the valley in which this world wonder city is located. In particular, the legend of Moses extracting the water from the sandstone is where Petra is mentioned in the Bible. It is stated that the prophet struck a rock in Petra to provide water for his thirsty people, and it magically spouted from the ground.